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Living Room Design Mistakes: 7 to Avoid


Living room design mistakes illustrated by a sofa that didn't fit I just read an illuminating article in MyDomaine regarding the 7 most common living room design mistakes. In case you don’t know, MyDomaine is one of the leading home design and lifestyle sites on the internet. I get a lot of valuable information from this site, especially when it comes to interior decorating.

I trust the writers and editors because they have all worked with some of the design industry’s leading brands like West Elm, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Anthropologie. They have also worked with a host of celebrity designers, like my favorites, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, Emily Henderson, and Athena Calderone. These tastemakers know what they’re talking about and provide inspiration that’s applicable to your own life and home. Let’s take a look at what they say about designing the perfect living room.

The Importance of Your Living Room

As the name implies, the living room is easily one of the most important rooms in your home. MyDomaine sought the professional advice of a leading stylist, an interior designer, and a residential architect. Here’s what they had to say about the mistakes they frequently notice and how to fix the errors (or have your interior designer make the fix) and create the living room of your dreams.

Mistake #1: The Wrong Sofa

Face it, a great living room starts with a great sofa.

“So often I come into a house and the owners have good taste, but they already have a sofa that they want to work with,” explains stylist and TV host Emily Henderson. “I’ve had to break the news over and over that with a sofa like that, they would never get the room they want.”

David John Dick of DISC Interiors agrees, “In living rooms, a good sofa is key to comfort, but it’s also central to how a room feels and looks. Our tip for getting it right is to pay attention to sofa seat height (a low seat is hard to get in and out of) and to draw a furniture floor plan before purchasing. Buying on impulse is great for accessories and side tables, but never for a sofa, as it can be a very costly mistake.”

The easy way to avoid choosing the wrong sofa is to think simple. Stay away from overly ornate details like curved legs, winged arms, tufts, and nail heads. Instead, look at the quality of the fabric and the timelessness of the shape.

Mistake #2: The Cold Showroom Look

New York-based architect Elizabeth Roberts warns homeowners to steer away from a living room that that looks like everything in it was purchased from the same store.

“It’s important to us to mix new and vintage elements in order to create an interesting, eclectic, and individualized room,” she says.

To avoid the living room mistake of creating a showroom feeling in your home, just make sure to accessorize. After your large items have been purchased, think lighting, textiles, and accessories to add your own personality into your living room. Experts also recommend homeowners use low lighting in their living room instead of a bright, overhead light. To do this, just purchase floor and table lamps.

Mistake #3: Buying the Wrong Size Rug

The right rug can be one of the most important purchases for your living room. Henderson warns homeowners to figure out the right size for your space before you buy.

“America has been suffering for too long from ‘small rug’ syndrome,” she says. “I see it virtually every day, and it pains me—especially when it can be so easily avoided.”

The right size rug for most living rooms is 8-by-10 feet. Even if you have a small space, stay away from anything under 6-by-9-feet.

Mistake #4: Your Layout

A lot of planning goes into creating a tasteful living room. Roberts has some excellent ideas on how to accomplish the right layout the first time.

“It’s important to consider and create conversation groupings, especially if the room is long and narrow like many townhouses and lofts,” she says.

Homeowners should also consider views, especially here in Montecito where ocean and mountain views are the norm. Check out the views from every angle and create your seating arrangements accordingly.

Mistake #5: Art Installation No living room mistakes can be found in this Montecito living room.

“Art hung the wrong way on a wall is like a character in a movie wearing a really bad wig,” Henderson says, “it’s just kinda hard not to see it, and you wish so bad you could just rip it off, knowing that everything would be so much better without it. It doesn’t ruin your experience, but it’s just terribly distracting.”

Hanging your art eye level is not always the best piece of advice. While typically, art should be hung at eye level, that may not be the case if your ceilings are really low or really tall. To determine the correct level, see your walls as if they were cut up vertically into four sections. Hang your art in the third quadrant.

Mistake #6: Too Precious to Live In

Roberts suggests homeowners focus on creating a living room that can handle the conveniences of everyday living.

“Select textiles and rugs that can take the wear and tear of everyday living,” she recommends.

Look for some great outdoor fabrics to bring into your living room. Outdoor fabrics are sturdier and greater if you have dogs and/or kids. Select rugs that will age well too, definitely not a silk rug. And by all means, make sure there’s enough storage for all your family stuff.

Mistake #7: Mixing Styles

Dick says, “Often times people feel boxed in and limited by the architecture of their home and select furniture based on the home’s architecture and time period. Our solution is to mix furniture styles with the style of architecture. We love to recover and rework vintage pieces and mix them with custom sofas, so the living room feels timeless and approachable.

Here is an indispensable trick for combining periods and styles: pay attention to furniture heights. Traditional furniture is typically higher than in modern pieces.

What do you think about these 7 common living room design mistakes? Can you find any in your Montecito home? You should take care of any design errors you’ve made, especially if you’re considering selling the home. I can help with that. Just give me a call at +1 805.886.9378 or email me at

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